Creating Guides in Adobe Illustrator
How to easily create perfect guides in Adobe Illustrator CC
In this article we’ll go over the process of making guides in Adobe Illustrator.
If you don’t have Illustrator CC, Adobe offers a free trial on their website.
To get started, we’ll fire up Illustrator and create a standard 1920x1080 document. I’ve added a black background to make it easier to see the guides when we create them, and I created the layers ‘background’ and ‘guides’:
For this example, we’re going to divide the screen into a 4x3 grid, with four columns and three rows. Fortunately, we can define the guide positions in a mathematical way, plugging in a simple equation and letting Illustrator do the actual math calculation, which results in perfect guides every time.
We’ll begin creating guides for our illustration by drawing a vertical line segment with a length equal to the height and affixed to the left side of the artboard. I have the properties dialog open also, so we can position the guide numerically by specifying values directly:
If your line ends up at
x=0.5 or something like that, that’s OK because we’re about to change it in a few moments anyway.
At this stage, we’ll go ahead and create a guide from the line. With the line selected (and nothing else — I like to lock what I’m not working on by default), select view -> guides -> make guides (or press the keyboard combination for this operation, indicated to the right of the menu option).
This turns the ordinary line into a guide, indicated by the cyan color:
With our newly created vertical guide in place, it’s time to put it where it belongs, and then create two more copies and place them accordingly to create the four columns. We’re going to need three of them, which means we need to divide the screen width by four. With the guide selected, input the equation 1920/4 into the
x value property for the line:
This results in our line being moved over to 480px, right where it belongs. Next, we’ll create two copies of the line and place them at 480*2 and 480*3 to finish building out the column guides:
With the column guides complete, the next step is to repeat the process with a horizontal across the top, moved to y=1080/3 for the first row guide:
As before, turn this line into a guide with view -> guides -> make guides or with a keyboard shortcut. With the line in place at 360 px, we simply need to add one more copy at y=360*2 and we’re done:
That’s it! Creating guides in Illustrator is easy and extremely helpful when doing any kind of design work. Other useful grid proportions include dividing the artboard into quarters or by the Golden Ratio.
Additionally, guides do not have to be straight lines or rectangular shapes. Any kind of vector shape can become a guide, including circles and curves.
Thanks for reading and good luck with your next design project!